We saved thousands of dollars by house sitting through the website TrustedHousesitters!
TrustedHousesitters connects homeowners – mostly pet owners – with kind and caring sitters who will stay at their home and care for their home and especially their pets.
This is a total win-win-win setup for everyone involved!
- The pet(s) gets to stay at home rather than going to a kennel
- The homeowner/pet owner pays nothing for the pet sitter other than allowing the pet sitter to stay in their home rent-free
- The the pet sitter gets to stay in a home rent-free.
We spent 6 nights doing a TrustedHousesitters stay in Chicago. As full time affordable luxury digital nomads, we love the concept and loved the experience.
How TrustedHousesitters Works
TrustedHousesitters is a global marketplace that is intent on disrupting the pet care and travel industries.
They cultivate and then connect a community of home and pet owners with a community of house sitters to solve a common two-sided problem – pet care and affordable travel.
TrustedHousesitters launched in 2010 in the UK with a mission to create an innovative approach to facilitating high quality pet care and ethical, authentic travel experiences at minimal cost. They quickly grew into a global community connecting thousands of home and pet owners with care-orientated sitters who look after their home and pets in exchange for a place to stay.
No cash changes hands. Instead, it’s a perfect barter system! The pet owner gets their pet taken care of while away. The sitter gets a free place to stay.
In that way, TrustedHousesitters has a lot in common with a dating app like Tinder or Match. You create a profile and then you put yourself out there. Then you go looking for a sitter or a sit and hope you find a match.
So, as with a dating app, communication between both parties is very important before you agree to a house sit. And, like dating apps, profiles are critical to the process. And so are reviews.
Here’s a video that describes exactly how it works:
How Much Does Trusted Housesitters Cost?
As noted, no cash is exchanged between the pet owner and the pet sitter. So TrustedHousesitters can’t take a cut of the action (as happens with booking sites like Airbnb). Instead, TrustedHousesitters has a subscription-based model.
Pet/home owners and sitters join for one annual fee.
Home/pet owners pay US$129 billed annually for an owner membership.
Sitters pay the same US$129 billed annually for a sitter membership.
Or you can buy both memberships for US$189, billed annually and get both free lodging AND free pet sitting while you are away!
That’s an amazing bargain if you stop to think about it.
$129 is what you would expect to pay for a single night in a mid-range hotel!
And pet boarding can cost up to $90 per night!
But for the annual membership fee you get unlimited sitters and/or sits!
That’s an amazing affordable luxury travel hack for both parties!
Where are the TrustedHousesitter Houses?
TrustedHousesitters is truly a global company and offers sits and sitters all over the world.
But as you can see from this map, the majority of house sitting opportunities are in Europe.
If you zoom in on Europe you can see that even within Europe the majority of house sits are in the UK.
These are not surprising statistics since Europeans get much longer vacations and take longer holidays than Americans, necessitating proper pet sitting rather than boarding or kenneling.
And TrustedHousesitters started in the UK, so it has been around there the longest.
Zooming in on the US, however, you can see that there are TrustedHousesitters sitting opportunities all over North America.
The trick is getting chosen for the house sitting opportunity!
Is TrustedHousesitters Safe?
The most common question people ask is: is TrustedHousesitters safe? Safe for the pets, safe for the homeowner and safe for the sitter.
The answer comes down to research due diligence.
As we say above, TrustedHousesitters is like a dating app. Your profile is your best bet to get a sitter or a sit.
Homeowners in this arrangement are usually at a distinct advantage here. Typically an offer for a pet/house sit will get multiple sitters applying for the sit – sometimes 20 or more sitters will apply for a sit.
From the homeowner/pet owner perspective, they are obviously looking for people who are responsible, love animals and can be trusted with the most important things in their life: their home and their pet.
From the sitter’s perspective, it’s all about making sure that the owner and the pet are safe.
TrustedHousesitters makes this research as easy as possible by allowing sitters to tell their story. In our case, we chose to highlight the fact that we aren’t kids. We’re a more mature and responsible couple.
They also allow you to verify email, phone and government ID to reduce the chances that we are scammers or bad actors.
They also allow a link to our Airbnb profile – which is huge. Since Airbnb homeowners entrust their property to a stranger for a short-term rent, it makes sense that good and responsible short-term renters will be good and responsible house sitters and pet sitters.
But as with most comparison sites, the most important feature are reviews.
TrustedHousesitters not only allows home and pet owners to review sitters, they also allow sitters to review both the homeowner as well as the pets!
Two-way reviews allow future sits and sitters to consider other members’ experiences before committing to a sitter or a sit and gives both parties peace of mind that the sit will be safe for all.
Getting Your First Sit
Reviews are critical to getting a sit. But that raises a chicken-or-egg question: if you need reviews to get a sit then how do you get your first sit when you have no reviews.
In our case, the answer was two-fold. We knew we had an extensive history and fantastic reviews on Airbnb. So that helped.
But you can also get a first sit by searching for new house sit listings that are last minute. That looks like this:
If a homeowner plans far in advance for their sit they will likely have plenty of sitters with lots of reviews to choose from.
But if a homeowner/pet owner puts the sit up at the last minute then they may be willing give a first-time sitter a chance because they have no other options.
And in the times of COVID-19 there are often last-minute cancellations by experienced sitters giving less experienced and even first time sitters an opportunity to get a sit and earn a review.
Our Experience as Pet Sitters with TrustedHousesitters
We decided to try TrustedHousesitters after learning about it from other digital nomads we have met in our digital nomad life.
We had signed up but not paid for a membership. Doing so allows TrustedHousesitters to send you sitting opportunities by email as a way to entice you to join.
Lisa got such an email with a last-minute house sitting opportunity in Chicago. Lisa LOVES Chicago. She has lots of friends there.
And in any case, we had booked a flight from the US to Europe from Chicago – and we needed to be in Chicago to get a rapid PCR test for COVID-19 before that flight.
This is what happens whenever we fly into Chicago:
But hotels in Chicago can be expensive even for fast travel!
So she signed up using a referral code for 25% off (our readers can get the same discount by clicking here!), created a profile and we applied for the house sit.
After a couple of in-app messages with the home/pet owner we were approved for our first TrustedHousesitter house and pet sit!
We arrived at the house at the designated time and were introduced to two gorgeous cats that would be our wards for the week.
The one on the right is a pure Bengal Cat, which have a pelt rather than fur. To us he looked like a tiny leopard. Just gorgeous. The one on the left is a half-Bengal rescue cat.
Each cat has a distinct personality but both were lovely. The Bengal loved to play and was constantly underfoot. The half-Bengal seemed to only show its face around mealtime until it was well used to us after a few days. But eventually it warmed up to Lisa.
Our job was to feed the cats.
We also cleaned the litter box. And played with the cats as much as they cared to – which sometimes was a lot and other times not at all!
But our biggest and most important job was to just be there for the cats. To pet them (when they wanted to be pet). To talk to them. And to reassure them that their mommy would be back for them soon.
And if we are honest, by the end of our week it was kind of hard to say goodbye.
And in exchange for this ‘work’, we got to stay in a gorgeous townhouse just off of North Street in Old Town Chicago for a week. Did I mention that the house has a private roof deck!?
Looking at comps on short-term rental sites, we figured we’d be paying $400 a night for a similar house through Airbnb. So the value of our stay was $2,800. Just to take care of a couple of adorable cats!
Bottom Line – How We Saved Thousands of Dollars House Sitting
TrustedHousesitters makes finding pet sitters or pet sits easy.
And it can be safe if you use all of the tools available, do careful research, and communicate with the other party to the sit.
Best of all, by paying the $129 annual membership fee we saved over $2800 in ONE sit!
As full time digital nomads our biggest expense is always lodging. Now that we know we can find lodging for the price of caring for pets, we intend to house sit all over the world!